Ways to give to charity...besides giving cash

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Like many kind-hearted Americans who intend to keep on being charitable despite the recession, I'm wondering how I can swing it despite a lack of cash to give.

For the cash-poor among us, there's a batch of recent suggestions floating around online. If you've got other assets in your portfolio to share, you can, with the help of a financial planner and CPA, consider handing over your life insurance policies, depressed stocks, excess IRA funds and even your car. Obviously these are gifts that take more time to put together, so the methods are probably only worth considering if you want to wow your favorite charity with the funding of your lifetime.

But there are plenty of hands-on ways to donate that don't involve financials. The brand-new Gift List is collecting ideas from anyone about how to do just that, and they're as easy as blogging about your fave charity and including a link or even writing thank-you notes to the staff for a job well done (having worked for a nonprofit, I can tell you that kind words mean so much to overlooked, underpaid staffers).

There's also the lazy approach to charitable giving -- simply click on an Internet link to help a charitable cause get what they need. Everywun is a just-launched web site that lets you click on a charity badge for a certain program that you can embed on your personal web site, blog, or Facebook page. Each click by your Internet visitors sends money from a corporate sponsor to that charity (get more background info about Everywun founders and purpose from this San Francisco Chronicle story). And there are other established sites that let you click for a cause, like The Hunger Site, which gives food to people, and The Animal Rescue Site, doing the same thing for animals.

I don't have a car or an IRA to donate but hey, I did write about and link to a couple of good charities. After writing some thank-you notes to my favorite charity organization and dropping off some veggies and canned goods to my local food bank, I hope to have the same warm feeling as if I had just written a big check.
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